Blog 3rd January 2017

Jan 1st 2017, 09:18

Blog 3rd January 2017

I hope that all my readers have had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Gavin Barwell MP, the Minister for Housing, has kicked off the New Year with an announcement that the government’s controversial ‘Starter Homes’ policy will go ahead after all. This is the policy that will see £1.2billion of public money spent in partnership with local authorities on subsidising people who want to buy homes up to a value of £450,000. The £1.2billion Starter Home Land Fund was established in April 2016 to support the acquisition, remediation and de-risking of further suitable land for starter home developments. The Minister said that:


“This government is committed to building Starter Homes to help young first time buyers get on the housing ladder. This first wave of partnerships shows the strong local interest to build thousands of Starter Homes on hundreds of brownfield sites in the coming years. One in three councils has expressed an interest to work with us so far.”


I am not a supporter of this scheme because I would rather see the resources spent on social housing to support people in greater housing need; and because I think that subsidising home ownership will only serve to increase prices further thus frustrating the stated aim of reducing the decline in home ownership.


Last year I wrote a briefing paper on Starter Homes that can be downloaded from HERE


The effect of the government’s focus on home-ownership was demonstrated in an article in this week’s ‘Cumberland News’ entitled: ‘Fears over funding cast a shadow over housing plans. Supported accommodation schemes risk grinding to a halt’. The article looks at the prospects for supported housing in Cumbria and especially at the prospects for extra care elderly housing. The article quotes Councillor Beth Furneaux (Labour) Cabinet Member for Health & Care saying that:


“Supporting older, disabled and vulnerable people to live independent and healthy lives is a key priority for the Council and developing extra care housing is one of the ways we will achieve this.”


The article goes on to describe Impact Housing Association’s excellent recently opened extra care elderly scheme at Brampton in Cumbria and then quotes Mike Muir, the Chief Executive, explaining why it is no longer possible to deliver such schemes as follows:

“Because of the uncertainty over long-term funding from central government, there are no providers at the moment willing to move into the market across the country because the risk is too great. It’s the risk of putting forward £3million of private investment into a scheme. Not knowing whether there would be sufficient revenue to cover it.


“The only people who would be able to afford it are people on significant private pensions, which rules out a huge proportion of the population… I see it all grinding to a halt now.”


Cumbria County Council forecasts that the need for extra care elderly accommodation in the County will increase from the current 700 units to 2,800 units by 2025.


The 2017 series of seminars on ‘All You Want to Know about Service Charges in Social Housing’ will start in February. There will be sessions in London and Leeds. For further information or to make a booking please click HERE


The 2017 series of seminars on ‘All You Want to Know about Local Authority Housing Finance’ will start in March. There will be sessions in London and Leeds. For further information or to make a booking please click HERE

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